After nearly three months of waiting, special education parents’ requests for camera monitors have passed another obstacle.
Audio-video monitors have been installed in some children’s classrooms but have not yet been activated, according to Killeen Independent School District officials Thursday.
The monitors will be activated Nov. 28, according to the district’s response to Herald questions. Cameras are “in the classrooms that had installation requests,” according to a KISD statement sent to the Herald on Thursday.
Six families had requested cameras, but the district didn’t provide a number on requests fulfilled, or say why they would not be activated until Nov. 28.
Angela Garvin had requested the cameras be placed in her son’s classroom in August.
“It is something,” Garvin said, when she learned of the district’s action to place the unactivated cameras in the classroom.
Garvin and other parents say the district has been dragging on the issue for months.
Parents’ frustrations had continued to rise as they waited for KISD to comply with their requests.
Until Thursday, Garvin had not been given a date for when monitors would be placed in her child’s classroom.
“A reasonable time period, without undue delay,” from the board’s policies and procedures was the only phrasing used when parents asked about the cameras.
KISD has had number of issues stemming from parent concerns that were not immediately addressed. In a previous Herald report, KISD’s special education problems were uncovered in March 2015 by the Texas Education Agency. The agency investigated the district’s special education department and found services for special education students had been delayed over the past seven years. The findings were made public at a KISD board workshop in July 2015.
Previously, some Killeen parents of special education students said they noticed changes in their children’s behavior. They said the children did not want to go to school, fearing bad treatment.
In May 2015, Laura Thomas, another Killeen special education mom, placed a recorder in her son’s backpack after having inclinations that her son was being mistreated. When she was able to listen to the tape, she said, she heard a teacher and two aides angrily interrogating another child.
A new state law requiring school districts to place cameras in special education classrooms if a parent requests it became effective in August.
Since then, six KISD families filed requests (two of the students are in the same classroom) to have monitors placed in their special education student’s classroom to protect the students from possible abuse or harassment.
The bill currently applies only to students who attend special education class for more than 50 percent of their academic day and have more than 50 percent of their curriculum taught in the same classroom by the same teacher.
Although the six families requested the monitors months ago, KISD delayed getting them the proper paperwork to fill out pending approval of the school board’s policy and procedures on the issue. The board approved the policy in October.
“The district seems to be simply checking boxes slowly, and still not using a specific time line for the public to see,” Garvin said before learning of the Nov. 28 date. “It shouldn’t take this long to fill out a few requests, especially when you already have the equipment.”
In the event that additional special education parents in KISD want to request monitors in their child’s classroom, a blank copy of the KISD special education monitor request forms can be downloaded here.
KISD officials explained how other parents can complete this process as well.
“Parents that want classroom monitors installed need to submit a request to the building principal. Once received, the campus will verify if the classroom does or does not qualify as a SPED (special education) self-contained classroom. If it does, then district administration is notified and administrators will begin to coordinate the installation.”